Book Review: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a world where being a geek or a nerd would be the best thing that could ever possibly happen to you? Well, if so, you are in luck because that world exists inside the pages of Ready Player One.

Granted, that world is also a toxic, post-apocalyptic wasteland, but hey, you take what you can get, right?

Ready Player One is stuffed to the gills with amazingly awesome and outstandingly obscure 1980s pop-culture references with an emphasis on video games and cartoons. Let me tell you, if you were a teenager in the 80s, then you are going to love this book, even if you don’t like reading.

Wade is a down-on-his-luck kid who spends all of his time inside the virtual world of OASIS just like every other person on the planet. Inside this virtual world there is a treasure hunt of epic proportions that eventually will lead one lucky treasure-hunter to the power of controlling everything about the OASIS. It’s a prize that some people are willing to kill to obtain.

I found this book to be light-hearted, fun, thought-provoking, and incredibly fast-paced all at the same time. I really felt for Wade at points and was thrilled to see that the author, Ernest Cline, provided a few moments for Wade to break free from the typical “gamer” stereotypes often seen in the real world.

For example, Wade starts the book as an overweight, lethargic, somewhat lazy guy, but eventually gets his weight under control, takes charge of his own life, and finds some motivation to keep himself going at any cost. It was a little bit inspirational in its own sideways kind of way.

Give Ready Player One a try, you won’t regret it. The book is the debut of Ernest Cline as an author and I’m excited to see what he publishes next because this book earned him a spot on my list of authors I’ll read no matter what they publish.

Grade: B
Length: 386 pages

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Goodreads   |   Author Site

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

  1. Pingback: Week’s End: Penn State Deserved Everything They Got « 20four12

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